LITHIA — Wharton’s JC Ulbrich sunk just one basket Friday night, but it was a big one.
Ulbrich connected on a buzzer beater near the top of the key as Wharton rallied to stun host Newsome 55-54.
“Just like we drew it up,” joked Wharton coach Tommy Tonelli.
A pass to the wing was deflected with seven seconds to play and Ulbrich, who was in the game because Chase Litton (15 points) fouled out, alertly grabbed the ball. With his back to the basket Ulbrich, who said he’d never hit a winning shot at the buzzer at any level, spun and heaved a one-handed shot as time ran out, stunning the home crowd and touching off a wild celebration at midcourt.
“I turned and saw two seconds and just threw it up,” Ulbrich said. “It was a pretty awesome feeling.”
Ulbrich hit the winner but it was set up by Jack Taylor’s hustle. Newsome, leading 54-53, brought a missed Wharton (6-2) shot into the frontcourt but the ball popped loose near the sideline. Taylor dove into the scrum and the ball caromed off a Wolves’ player and out of bounds, giving Wharton possession with 10 seconds left.
“If Taylor doesn’t keep it alive,” Tonelli said, “we don’t win the game.”
Tonelli said Taylor, who finished with a game-high 19 points and hit some big shots down the stretch, was not the No. 1 option on the final possession.
“I thought they’d be keying on (Taylor) so we tried to get the ball to John Christian,” Tonelli said. “It got a little disjointed and they made a good defensive play to knock it away.”
Donovan Geter put Newsome (5-3) ahead 54-53 with a runner in the lane with 30 seconds left to Ulbrich’s heroics. Danny Morales had a team-high 12 points for Newsome while teammates Anthony Gamble scored 11 and Jeff Povelones added 10.